Ganesha festival celebrations to be allowed in Karnataka with restrictions, says CM

Idols not more than 4 feet tall can be installed in open spaces like playgrounds to celebrate with limited (20) public participation.
Ganesha idols
Ganesha idols
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Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Tuesday allowed celebration of the Ganesha festival in public places on August 22 even as the city's idol-makers are not finding very many customers due to the COVID-19 restrictions. The state had earlier banned celebration of the festival in public under "decorated pandals" (makeshift tents) in residential and commercial areas to prevent the COVID-19 spread, restricting it to temples and homes. However, under the revised guidelines, people can install only 4 feet tall Ganesha idols in pandals and regulate the movement of devotees to ensure physical distancing.

"A Ganesha idol not more than 4 feet tall can be installed in open spaces like playgrounds to celebrate the Hindu God's festival with limited (20) public participation to ensure social distancing," CM Yediyurappa said in a statement.

"The Ganeshotsava committees (mandals) celebrating the festival should take permission from the local civic office for installing only one idol in each locality," said the statement, adding that devotees would be allowed to worship the deity by keeping a six feet distance between themselves.

The ban on taking the idol in a procession for immersion in a lake, pond, or water tank will remain to avoid crowding in public places.

"The height of the Ganesha idol made of mud and to be worshipped at home by families should be 2 feet and has to be immersed in a tub or bucket in the house only,"  the Chief Minister’s statement said.

"As per the guidelines of the Ministry of Home Affairs, cultural events, including music concerts and singing together, will not be allowed during the 10-day fest," said the statement.

The 4-feet tall idols will have to be immersed in mobile tanks that the city civic body will arrange in each of the 198 wards across the city or in nearby ponds.

For the first time in many years, the pandemic restrictions have dampened the sale of Ganesha or Vinayaka idols across the city.

"In view of the COVID-19 restrictions on celebrating the festival in public, even orders placed earlier for large-sized idols have been cancelled by many religious and cultural organisations and temples," lamented Kumbara Sangha Secretary Anand in the city's Pottery Town.

As one of the popular Hindu festivals, Ganesha Chaturthi is celebrated every year on the fourth day of the new moon to mark the arrival of the Elephant God on earth from Kailash Parvat (heavenly abode) with his mother, Goddess Parvathi or Gowri.

Though hundreds of potters across the city begin making huge Ganesha and Goddess Durga's idols since March, many on orders placed by various organisations, the extended lockdown and its stringent curbs on religious and social gatherings have forced them to make deities of small sizes.

"We are forced to make Ganesha idols of 2 to 4 feet height only with mud and lime as per the guidelines. Due to the ban on celebrating the festival in a grand manner, we are not making thematic idols, as there are no buyers for them," added Anand.

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